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Bill Gates, Total Invest $14M in Bioproduct Technology

renmatixMicrosoft founder Bill Gates and global energy giant Total are investing $14 million to help commercialize a technology that may produce cheaper bioplastics and biofuels.

Renmatix’s Platrose technology converts waste biomass to cellulosic sugars, which then can be used as feedstock for chemicals and fuels. This process uses supercritical water instead of enzymes, solvents or acids to reduce costs, the company says.

The company won a 2015 Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award for its technology, which the White House says could result in a sizeable increase in the production of plant-based chemicals and fuels.

Renmatix says the recent $14 investment, led by Gates, will drive new biorefineries in the US, Canada, India and elsewhere that will commercialize the Plantrose technology. This, the company says, will also spur market development in downstream bioproduct applications.

“To effectively address climate change, we need to develop an energy infrastructure that doesn’t emit greenhouse gas and is cost competitive,” Gates said in a statement. “A critical component in this effort must be to decarbonize the industrial sector. Another is the possibility of cost competitive biofuels. Renmatix provides an innovative process that is an exciting pathway to pursue.”

Total, an initial Renmatix investor in 2015, expanded its investment and also signed a licensing agreement with Renmatix for 1 million tons of annual cellulosic sugar production capacity.

“At Total, our ambition is to become the responsible energy major,” said Total chairman and CEO Patrick Pouyanné in a statement. “We want to make low-carbon businesses a profitable growth driver accounting for 20 percent of our portfolio in 20 years’ time. Meeting these goals is what has led to setting-up and expanding our collaboration with Renmatix.”

The investment comes as the bioplastics market is booming, driven by environmental concerns and strong demand from the packaging sector, according to a market research report. It says the $30.8 billion bioplastics market will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 14.8 percent from 2015 to 2020.

Additionally, biofuels are gaining a bigger share of the aviation and road transportation fuel markets.

Biojet fuels will be key to achieving the aviation industry’s pledge to cut CO2 emissions to 0.2 billion tons (GT) in 2050 — half the 2005 figure — as opposed to the 2.1 GT projected by current growth rates, according to a Lux Research report published earlier this summer.

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One thought on “Bill Gates, Total Invest $14M in Bioproduct Technology

  1. Biorefineries have been dead for at least 5 years, as you can’t optimize a process for multiple outputs (unless you manage to make process waste a virtue somehow).
    There are perfectly good processes from clean power and clean chemicals from biowastes, so why reinvent the wheel ?

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